Pritzker lifts school mask mandate even as state Supreme Court strikes down order blocking it
All schools in Illinois will be able to go mask-optional if they wish on Monday, joining most other indoor public settings across the state.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said late Friday that he will halt his embattled school mask mandate on Monday -- the same day he is lifting the COVID-19 requirement in other areas. The governor tweeted out the decision, citing new guidelines the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Friday easing its recommendations on face coverings as the Omicron surge ebbs across the nation.
Pritzker's move comes hours after the Illinois state Supreme Court earlier in the day refused to hear the governor's appeal of a decision in a lawsuit challenging his mask mandate. But the state's top court denial also tossed out a Sangamon County judge's temporary restraining order issued earlier this month that halted the mandate.
"I'm gratified that the Supreme Court vacated the lower court's restraining order, meaning that if a school mask mandate needs to go into effect in the future, we continue to have that authority," Pritzker said in his tweet.
Yet the state Supreme Court did not rule on whether Pritzker could impose the mandate again in the future.
ABC 7 Chicago legal analyst Gil Soffer said the Supreme Court is saying that it can't hear an appeal on an issue that's already been found to be moot, and there also can't be a TRO on a mandate that's been rendered moot by a court.
So, the decision on masking in schools in Illinois remains with local districts. The Supreme Court ruling does, however, send the case back to the lower court in Sangamon County.
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